I swear the timing has nothing to do with me but there was an intriguing question in our weekender superquiz on Saturday.
Question 21 in the “not-so-easy three pointers” section was:
“What does QANTAS stand for?”
Many people in our region might be quick to point out the answer is, “not much”, but our region would also most likely know the intended answer.
I’ve been using that answer in my communication with Qantas to remind them where they started. I asked them, when do they plan to change their name from “Queensland And NT Aerial Service” as they no longer represent the best interests of where they were founded.
My question sounds absurd but it is important. If Qantas’s founders were alive today they’d be delighted by the airline’s success. But they’d be horrified by the price of their flights from the regions, and they also wouldn’t like the fact they don’t link western Queensland and the Northern Territory.
While the first problem is attracting most anger, the second problem is just as important. Anyone on the Boulia Rd lately would see why as the gas pipeline to Tennant Creek takes shape.
An inland rail link is also longer-term priority, Brisbane to Darwin freight comes this way and our city has much in common with Alice Springs. Yet there is not one regularly scheduled flight to the Red Centre,Tennant Creek or Darwin. What chance has the Northern Australian Infrastructure Plan ever getting up with such chronically poor transport infrastructure?
Arguably it is not Qantas’s role to solve these problems. Yet this was precisely what their founders Paul McGinness and Hudson Fysh did in 1923 when their new airline conquered the vast distance between Charleville to Cloncurry and ended the remoteness of western Queensland. The following year the service was extended to Camooweal, calling in at the brand new settlement of Mount Isa. Qantas facilitated the economic development of the north west by making it easier to get around.
But it’s not so fair to say the same thing almost a century later.
Nowadays passengers can only fly to or from the coast, and at great expense. Qantas have introduced the residents’ fares and that’s a good start. But more needs to be done. The price should come down for everyone on everyday fares. If that means one or two less sales from Melbourne to Sydney to pay for it, then too bad. Otherwise, they don’t deserve the acronym QANTAS.
Qantas have yet to respond to my question.
– Derek Barry